St. John's Church, Claremorris, is now the home of the town's library.

Heritage Council funding for restoration of historic Mayo graveyard

Claremorris Tidy Towns and Claremorris Historical Society have warmly welcomed an allocation by the Heritage Council of €3,369 in funding to carry out phase one of the restoration of St. John’s Graveyard in the town.

Phase one of the project will involve flora, bird and bat surveys, on-site training in graveyard mapping and memorial inscription recording and the development of a management plan for the graveyard which will include fostering biodiversity.

This work will be led by the project co-ordinator, Kevin Barton, who lives locally and is an expert in this area.

The results of phase one of the project with a draft map will be presented in a Heritage Week event on August 19 in the former St John's Church to which the whole community will be invited.

Benefits to users of the local library will include the availability of a landscaped, green contemplative area with seating and possibly tables, where books can be read or lunch eaten in a quiet place in the town.

This may also be designated a no-phones area.

The availability for respectful use of the restored graveyard will foster ownership by the local community and discourage anti-social behaviour such as dumping, which has become an unwelcome feature of its current derelict condition.

Welcoming the news, Pauline Flynn of Claremorris Tidy Towns noted that this is believed to be the first Heritage Council Community Grant awarded to Claremorris.

“We are delighted to have got the go-ahead for this very worthwhile project and work is already under way.

When completed the restored area will provide a welcoming and respectful space adjacent to the library and be a great addition to that area of our town,” she said.

“We are also seeking photographs of and information about the church and graveyard," she added.

These can be sent to Alan King (Librarian), St John's Graveyard Project, c/o Claremorris Library, Claremorris.

Colmán Ó Raghallaigh of Claremorris Historical Society describes the St. John’s Church building as the most iconic building in Claremorris.

“The building dates from 1828 and its immediate environment deserves to be maintained to the highest standards.

"As well as allowing the community to show pride in local heritage, this project will offer the people of Claremorris an opportunity to recognize the contribution of the Church of Ireland to the history of the town and their generosity in donating the church building to the local community in the 1980s.

It currently serves both as a library and as an important cultural venue for talks, concerts and films.

“This major restorative project is now urgently needed and we believe that the coming together of Claremorris Tidy Towns and Claremorris Historical Society will be a good example of the community rolling up its sleeves to tackle what is certainly a long overdue restoration of part of our local heritage.

“The planned documenting of the memorial inscriptions, some of them currently illegible, will aid in assessing the historical contribution of the Church of Ireland community in the development of Claremorris and its environs.

"It will also ensure that the graves and memorials of those buried here will be preserved and protected in a respectful and dignified manner,” he added.